The original movie spinoff of the popular Jim Henson characters, the
Muppet Movie is the story (well, sort of) of how the monster puppets came
Kermit the Frog (is his middle name really "the?") is sitting
on a log in his home swamp, plucking plaintively away on his banjo, wondering
in song why there are so many songs about rainbows when a Hollywood agent
(Dom DeLuise, in the first of many celebrity cameos) suggests he take
his talent to "the dream factory." This starts Kermit on a music
and laughter-filled cross country jaunt to follow his dream.
Along the way he meets up with, befriends, and invites to join him, Fozzie
Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppet crew we've come to
know and love over the years.
Naturally, there has to be some conflict in good drama (assuming that's
what this movie is, of course) and in "The Muppet Movie" it's
provided by Charles Durning as the misguided Doc Hopper, owner of a chain
of fast food frog's legs restaurants who wants Kermit to be his corporate
Doc isn't really a bad guy, but he represents corporate America and that
can't be good, can it?
The movie is full of delightful Paul Williams/Kenny Ascher songs and
the type of pun-filled banter that made the original Muppet TV show such
a worldwide hit. The story is entertaining, the stunts (yes, Muppets have
stunt doubles - though Kermit claimed he did his own) are fun, and the
whole shebang turns into a lighthearted hour and a half in the home theater.
In short, it's a delight for viewers of all ages.
What isn't quite so delightful is the DVD itself. While Columbia Tristar
has given the disc its usual digital mastering and the film is presented
in both anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) and Pan&Scan editions,
there are many places in this film in which the picture quality is simply
too grainy to pass muster. This may be due to the source material, but
whatever the cause we just don't like it. It's too bad because parts of
the film look fine, but not enough of it. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
sounds okay, though.
For extras, we're treated to director Jim Frawley's camera test, and
it's a pretty interesting bit of extra. There's also "Muppetisms:
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Rizzo" as well as some bonus trailers.
Still, we'd rather have a Muppet Movie with warts (and, since there's
a frog involved how can it not have - or at least cause - warts? Oh, sorry,
that's toads.) than no Muppet Movie, so sit back and prepare to laugh.
The Muppet Movie, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
95 min, widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 compatible, Pan&Scan, Dolby Digital
Starring the Muppets, Charles Durning, Austin Pendleton and assorted celebrity
Written by Jerry Juhl & Jack Burns
Produced by Jim Henson, Directed by James Frawley.
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